Chapter 3. leaving Kentucky
Joseph asked John if 'e wanted 'is family buried here, or should they take 'em to town for a proper burial. He said 'e'd rather they be buried proper, so Joseph hooked up the wagon an' they loaded up the dead an' headed for town. Joseph had explained that 'e had to shoot Jason Green, an' they both knew who it was that murdered this family. Well John, I think we better take care of this first. We know who did it, an' we don't know for sure who has Penelope. But somehow, I kinda got a fishy feelin they might be connected. I'm not sure why, but I just get a fishy feelin bout these fellers. Did ya find the ones who headed east? Naw, they hid their tracks on me. They got to the hard road so the tracks blended in with all the others on there. Well, whoever it is, they're smart. Yea, that they are. They got to town an' headed straight to the undertaker. When they walked in Bob, the undertaker, had a huge smile on 'is face as soon as 'e seen Joseph. Well looky here, if it ain't Joseph Cates. Joseph cut 'im off an' told 'im John had bad news an' needed to do some quick business with 'im. What happened John? It's my wife, an' my three kids. They been murdered. Oh my goodness. Bring 'em in, I'll take good care of 'em. They brought in Johns family, an' told Bob to go on an' bury 'em as soon as the funeral was over cause they had to leave pronto, an' wouldn't be back in time for the funeral. He agreed an' they went to talk to the reverend, an' explain what happened to 'im. Joseph asked John; still goin to the same church? He replied; same church, still the same preacher. Well. He's a good'n. When they walked in the church house, the reverend seen Joseph an' smiled greatly. Well Joseph, how are ya? I'm fine reverend, but we got terrible business to tend to, an' John here needs to talk to ya for a bit. Sure, what's wrong John? Well reverend. Margaret was murdered, an' the girls. Oh dear God. How can I help? Well sir, if you could just have a funeral for 'em, an' lay 'em to rest for me, I'd priciate it. Ya see we don't have time to stop, an' we won't be back in time for the funeral. Of coarse I will. You boys go on an' do what has to be done. I'll tell who needs tellin here. Thanks reverend; they both say as they walk out and shut the door. The reverend looks up to God an' said; please forgive me lord, an' turns to the closing door an' said; kill every son of a bitch of 'em. They headed out toward Johns place again to load up supplies an' stopped at Margaret's folks place to explain what 'ad happened out at the Weston place. Mr. Nelson was on the front porch when they rode up, an' hollered at his wife Jennifer, to tell 'er come out an' see who was ridin up after more 'en two years. When she seen who it was, she throwed 'er arms up an' laughed for joy. Well come on in here Joseph Cates, an' have some dinner. I was just puttin plates on the table. We don't have time ma'am; he said. We need to be gittin on. We're chasin some killers, but I best let John tell ya. They dismounted an' John stepped up on the porch an' told them what happened out at his place, an' they wouldn't be able to make it back for the funeral, an' asked 'em if they'd forgive 'im for not bein at it. Jennifer Nelson almost fainted right there, but John an' Carl, her husband, helped 'er to the living room to sit down for a spell. Coarse we do; they both said, We understand. It's yer job. But ya ain't goin no place without at least eatin dinner afore ya leave. Well, we really should be goin they tried to say, but she'd have none of it. They were eatin an' that was that. So they ate fast as they could, an' headed on to Johns place. They loaded up the supplies they'd need for a few days, an' headed west to find a trail. It didn't take long afore they found signs, an' they fallowed for awhile till the trail turned back east an' north. Not long after, the other horse's tracks came into the line of horses they were trailin. Well; Joseph said. Looks like we found out where the two east bounders went. Yep. Right back to the main group. This just keeps getting better an' better, don't it. Yep. We'll catch up to 'em John. Don't you worry. They'll pay. That's a promise from me. I'm your witness.
They trailed the riders east an' north, right on up into Ohio, then on up to a town called Zanesville where they headed east toward Wheeling West Virginia. The law men pulled into a saloon to wet their whistles an' get some food that wasn't cooked on the trail. Maybe they could ask around too while they were in there. A saloon is always loaded with information, an' this one looked to be a high stepper. They went in an' got a table, an' ordered a couple steaks an' a bottle of whiskey. The waiter brought the whiskey first, so they could cool their throats while they waited for their food. A couple times girls would come over an' try to entice 'em upstairs, but when they seen the badges they decided otherwise. A few women liked the men in badges, but for most parts, at least the strangers in badges, they left alone.
Meanwhile the Green gang was only a couple miles out of town. Camped out on the river, they were waitin for Gerald Abernathy to get back from town an' tell 'em if the two law-men were still on their trail. They figured the men didn't get a good enough look at 'im, so it'd be safest for him to go in to town. Since they been checkin their back trail this way in just bout every town since they lit out, it seemed to work fairly well, so they kinda relaxed an' took their time. They done figured the two law men were gonna be detained for at least three, maybe four days. Penelope didn't like being out with the gang now that Jason was dead, but she didn't have any say in the matter knowin that Bill was in charge, an' 'e didn't have any ideas of letting 'er go any time soon, if ever. He kinda took a likin to 'er, since 'e seen 'er bathin in that river earlier. She was a handsome woman indeed, an' 'e planned to make 'er his woman. He didn't care much if she liked it or not. After all, it was 'is own feelings 'e was thinkin bout, an' 'e could always use 'er as bait if needed. If nothing else, he could still leave 'er on the trail. Some other reason for the law men to be detained. Another funeral should slow 'em down even more. Gerald came in camp an' reported the law-men were indeed in town eatin. It didn't look like they was gonna stay; 'e said. They just sit down to eat, an' have a few drinks. The local sheriff was headed over to talk to 'em when I lit out. Damn it all; Bill said. Go get Penny. He left an' came back shortly with Penelope, an' Bill told 'er to sit by 'im. Do ya think that brother of yours 'll fallow us clean into Pennsylvania? You know as well as I do 'e will Bill. He won't stop till 'e kills all of us, even me. Specially if 'e knows I'm runnin with ya. Your men killed Sheriff Weston's family, so they'll both track ya till yer dead. How'd you know bout that? I hear things when ya talk loud like ya all do. An' they won't stop either. They'll dog ya, an' dog ya. But they won't ever stop. Ok, ok, shut up. He slapped 'er an' she fell by the fire. You're my woman now, ya hear? You'll do as I say, or I'll leave ya right on the trail for that brother of yours to find, an' you'll be cut up even worse 'an them kids were, ya hear? Yea bill, I hear ya. But they'll kill ya. He looked at Gerald an' told 'im to take 'er and tie 'er up. But boss, I don't think she's gonna go run to 'er brother. I don't care. Tie the bitch up. There's other law round here too ya know. How long do ya think it'll be afore them law-men leave the saloon? Maybe an hour or two, dependin on how long the sheriff an' them talk. Gerald takes Penelope away an' ties 'er up, but not so much as to hurt her. He also had feelings for the woman, maybe because she was so handsome, an' maybe because she was kinda frail. Bill Green decided to pull out an' get on over into Pennsylvania afore Cates an' Weston caught up to 'em.
Back at the saloon Joseph an' John were just finishin supper when the local sheriff came over an' introduced himself. Howdy gents. Sheriff McCain. Care if I join ya? Sure sheriff, sit down. I noticed you weren't from around here. Where ya from? Well; John said, I'm from Kentucky, an' marshal Cates here, he's from Missouri. Cates, eh? Wouldn't be Joseph Cates, would ya? Yea, that's me sheriff. Glad to meet ya Cates. I heard a lot about you. Oh? All bad, I hope. They laughed an' sheriff McCain told 'em; no, well not all of it anyway. Story has it, you never lost a man you were huntin, an' never missed a man you were shootin at. Well, I figure if you're huntin a man, no sense in losin 'im, an' if you're shootin at a man, well, ya better hit 'im afore 'e hits you. How many of them men did ya actually get back, in one piece? A few. Speakin of lookin for men sheriff, have ya seen a bunch ridin through here? Say, either eight or nine men, or seven or eight men an' a woman? We trailed 'em this far. Yea, there has been a bunch ride through, yesterday. They didn't stay long, just long enough to get supplies, an' have a few drinks, then they road out. Was a woman with 'em? Not sure marshal. One looked like it coulda been a woman, I guess, kinda small like for a man. They say anything about where they were headed? Nope. I didn't talk to all of 'em, an' the ones I did talk to, didn't say much. That feller that was at the bar when ya came in was with 'em. He left as I was comin over. Musta been one of the hidin ones we didn't see. We've only seen six of the men. Two others always stay hid, an' the woman, if in fact it is a woman. Marshal, why are ya lookin for these men? They killed Sheriff Weston's family. Oh, sorry to hear that sheriff. Thanks. We best be headed out Joseph. Yea let's git. Sheriff, ain't they a river close to here? Oh yea, just about a mile an' a half east. Thanks. No problem boys. An' boys, if ya kill them fellers, drag 'em home through a different county, ok? We'll catch 'em alright, an' kill 'em if we have to. But we don't plan to take the bodies back. They'll just rot where we hang 'em. I've heard that about you too. Bye sheriff McCain. Buy boys.
They headed east toward the river, an' slow down when they hear the water so they can keep to themselves, an' not be seen or heard. They sneak up to the river an' look for sign, an' see where the gang had camped, but left in a hurry. Yep, they was here alright. They left fast. They musta knowed we was comin John. Yea, I bet that feller in town was waitin for us. Waitin to see if we 'as still on their trail. Yea, but who? We'll have to keep an eye out next time we see a town. Well, Pittsburgh ain't but about seventy five miles or so east of here, an' it's all hills between here an' there. If they're lookin to stay in town, that might be where they're headed, but we'll be there waitin. Let's go. I doubt they'll keep to the road, so let's take it. It'll be faster an' maybe we can head 'em off when they get to town. An' I still wanna know who that woman is, if it's a woman, but I don't want to start a ruckus in town if I can help it. You think it might be Penelope, don't ya Joseph. I ain't sure yet, but I'm gonna find out, one way or another. What if it is? I don't know but if she's runnin with this bunch, I wanna know why. It ain't like her to just go off an' leave a home, an' kids. Let alone get mixed up with the likes of the Green boys. Well Joseph, at least she didn't have any kids of 'er own. Yea, but what if she is with the bunch that killed Margaret an' the girls. If she is, I just don't know what I'll do.
They make the road just afore dark an' decide to travel for awhile since the moon was so bright. They could get to town by tomorrow night if luck held out. They traveled all night. Not running, but just a fast trot. Horses could go much longer trottin then runnin, an' they only stopped to rest the horses a few times, an' to eat a bite. They met a few travelers on the road, but nobody knew anything about the men they were after. When they arrived in Pittsburgh the next evening, they went to a saloon to eat, an' then went back west just out of town to wait. The gang they were huntin didn't come to town till the next day, an' they rode right past the two law men that were waitin back in the trees a ways. They let 'em pass an' fallowed 'em into town to see where they went. They went straight to the general store for supplies an' kept on going east. They ain't waitin to see if were still on their trail John. They just want out of here afore they think we're here. Let's go. Wait. One of 'em went to the saloon. Let's see who stayed behind to wait for us. Ok, let's go have a drink, what do ya say? Sounds good. They headed for the saloon again, an' Gerald Abernathy started to leave, but Joseph called him out. He spun around to draw, but 'e didn't stand a chance. Marshal Cates cut 'im down afore 'e even had 'is gun out of the holster. He had a draw that was different than anybody else. When 'e pulled 'is gun out of the holster, he spun it over so that when it stopped spinnin in 'is hand the hammer was pulled back to fire. It rode on 'is shootin finger so there was less friction, and was so fast nobody could even see it move. It didn't spin an' spin, just one spin, an' it was fire time. Sometimes 'e even let the power from the shot spin it backwards an it always landed right back in the holster. Just like this time. Peter taught it to 'im. Sheriff Weston just stood lookin at his friend. Well sir; 'e said, there's one more down. Six more to go, or seven. Yea. They won't have a messenger today, will they. Nope. Let's head east. The local sheriff was comin in the batwings just as they were leavin. Hold on boys; 'e said. Suppose you two can explain this shootin? Sure we can; John said. My friend just killed a murderer. That man was in the bunch that murdered my wife an' three little girls. You wanna stop us? We have six or seven more men to find. What's your names boys? I'm Sheriff Weston, an' this here's Marshall Cates. That's federal Marshall. Cates, eh? I heard of ya. We'll be leavin now sheriff. You two go on. I'll clean this up. Good day sheriff. So long boys, an' be careful. John turn an' asked: Why do ya say that? Cause this feller runs with a bad bunch. You know 'em? Yep. That's Bill Green an' 'is bunch. he's been up here a lot since the war, an' 'e got a bunch of the gorilla fighters to join 'im. They been thievin everywhere around these parts. An' I never could catch 'em. Just be careful. They don't mind killin you or anybody else. An' we won't mind killin them either. There were people in the saloon talking about how fast that man drew, but they didn't pay any attention to that, they had a bunch to catch up to. They headed out of town, but afore they hit the edge of town, a boy was runnin toward 'em screaming. What's wrong boy?; they asked. It's Joe Potter. They killed 'im, an' 'is whole family. Where's his place at? About a half mile outta town, ya can't miss it. It's still smoking. They burned the place to the ground, an' killed ol' Joe an' 'is wife. They even killed the kids. All five of 'em. They set the horses to run, an' headed to the Potter place. When they got there, the neighbors were still there watching the house burn. It went up so fast, it was already fallin down. The bodies were laid out in the wagons. One boy of about sixteen came over an' asked who they were, an' Sheriff Weston explained who they were, an' what they were doing in that area. Well sheriff; 'e said. There was a bunch of men, an' a woman. I seen 'em. They rode in here an' just started shootin. They just butchered this whole family. I was hidin up there in the trees. I didn't dare show myself. Good thinkin kid. They'd surely killed you too. Do ya know which way they headed? Yes sir. They headed west. West? Yes sir. They headed south, but turned an' headed back west. I seen 'em. We been followin that bunch all the way from Kentucky. Why do ya think they headed west Joseph? No idea. But I reckon we're headed west too, an' I ain't stoppin till they're every one dead. Even that woman. Boy, did they take anything that ya know of? Yes sir, they did. It looked like a little safe or somethin. I know ol' Joe Potter. He always had money in a safe here. You can see it's a nice place. Well, it was a nice place anyway, till that bunch rode in. what did the woman look like, did ya see her? All I could tell is that she had long black hair, an' she looked pretty from what I could see, but I couldn't see that much. She was kinda little, an' she never got off 'er horse. Did she do any shootin? She had her gun out, but I couldn't tell if she shot it or not. I don't think she did. I was hidin. Ya sure it was a woman? Oh yea, I heard her yellin to shut them kids up. That's when that one man shot 'em. Let's go John.